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October 5th, 2019

I think this may be the hardest Jumbo we've had for a while - well I certainly found it testing, taking about twice my usual time of 45 minutes as I struggled with some of the intricate wordplay and more than the usual smattering of words I was unfamiliar with. But that made it all the more satisfying to complete. Some cracking clues, with plenty of wit and cleverness, I particularly enjoyed 13A, 27A, 7D, 9D and, when I finally parsed it, my COD - 38D. LOI was 29A which seemed to be visiting from Mephistoland. Indeed it is to be found in the Mephisto of 29th July last year. Great stuff. Thanks setter! So, how did everyone else get on with this little big teaser?

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This was a bit of a tester, but I very much liked that the things I didn’t know, like the meaning of 10ac and the second bird at 21ac, were things to look up later rather than barriers to finding the answer.

My clue of the day was 5dn. Simple once you see it, but I’ve fallen for it before!

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’.

The blog is in Times New Roman font, as part of a gentle campaign to urge the club site to use a font in which it is easier to tell one’s stem from one’s stern.

Across
1 Individual to reveal information in two ways (9)
SINGLETON – revealing information might be to SING, or to LET ON.

6 Fear losing face making this? (5)
ERROR – ‘fear’ could be [t]ERROR, ‘losing its face’.

9 Painter with lack of conveyance from the east (5)
BACON – NO CAB, written from east to west. Oddly, my first thought was ‘no sub’, and indeed BUSON was a Japanese painter!

10 Mess that is eaten by eels (9)
CONGERIES – I.E. in CONGERS. I may have seen this word before, but I had no idea what it meant!

11 Nonet perform, gathering tips from nouvelle vague (7)
INEXACT – IX might be a nonet in Roman numerals. Insert (‘gathering’) N[ouvell]E, then append ACT (perform). Very neatly constructed, I thought.

12 American newspaper almost right for English martyr (7)
LATIMER – add R to the L.A. TIME[s]. I didn’t know of Hugh Latimer.

13 Note signs of wrong and right sports kit (8,6)
LACROSSE STICKS – I wasn’t sure if lacrosse is played with sticks or rackets, but when all else fails, read the instructions! LA (note), CROSSES (signs of wrong), TICKS (… and of right).

17 Loaf goes with a fried, mixed meat dish (4,2,4,4)
PATE DE FOIE GRAS – PATE (head, or loaf), (GOES A FRIED*) ‘mixed’.

21 Big pair of birds caught (7)
TITANIC – TIT, ANI, C. An ani is a American cockatoo.

23 Mathematician needing a pause in a bar (7)
FERMATA – I couldn’t think of a mathematician shaped ****A*A, but the penny dropped when I got the F at the front: Fermat (and his last theorem) I knew, fermata I didn’t! It’s a musical instruction.

25 Army officer to place order (9)
COLLOCATE – the COL. will LOCATE it. It was a surprise to discover “collocated” could mean “ordered” rather then “together”.

26 Fiddle with drama, tinkering in part (5)
AMATI - hidden answer.

27 Give name to eyesore around Lithuania's capital (5)
STYLE – STYE ‘around’ L[ithuania].

28 Figure following e.g. dog with the thing's snack (5,4)
PETIT FOUR – PET (e.g. dog), IT (the thing), FOUR (figure).


Down
1 Using computers to fill in nuanced translation (8)
SUBTITLE – I.T. ‘filling in’ SUBTLE.

2 Seaside resort with hotel in bay (5)
NICHE – H (hotel) in NICE (French resort).

3 Canary maybe a great singer, with repeated practice (9)
LANZAROTEMario LANZA, ROTE. One of the Canary Islands.

4 Prominent Roman penning account? (7)
TACITUS – TITUS was a Roman emperor, so prominent enough. Let him ‘pen’ A/C to give the historian, also prominent, brilliantly defined by the &lit. clue.

5 Puzzle lacking positive value? (7)
NONPLUS – perhaps not negative in value, but at least NON-PLUS.

6 Turn out English and European ecologist (5)
EVERT – E (English), VERT (a French Green). One of my last in. I only stumbled on it running through the alphabet when I got to EVENT.

7 Spooner's principal gardener is a key employee (9)
RAINMAKER – sounds like MAIN RAKER.

8 Parks maybe outside of Romney as a sign of devotion (6)
ROSARYROSA Parks, R[omne]Y.

14 Worker forbidding houses in French town (9)
CHANTILLY – CHILLY ‘houses’ ANT.

15 Is this a stimulant in tin, brain getting addled? (9)
INEBRIANT – E (the stimulant) in (TIN BRAIN*) ‘addled’. Another &lit. clue.

16 Playfully leap and rise where climbing’s intended (8)
ESPALIER – (LEAP RISE*) ‘playfully’. Another unknown/unremembered word.

18 Hold lens cap tight (7)
ENCLASP – (LENS CAP*) ‘tight’ i.e. drunk.

19 Funny like Bobby after work? (7)
OFFBEAT – double definition, the second humorous.

20 Provides instrument of ridicule (6)
STOCKS – and another double definition, the second archaic.

22 Killer quickly brought up before judge's back (5)
NOOSE – SOON ‘brought up’ (since this is a down clue), then [judg]E.

24 Recalling doctor's old mission (5)
ALAMOÀ LA (Chambers offers this definition which fits nicely: in the manner of, eg à la James Joyce), then M.O. (medical officer).

Alfie - what it was all about (QC 1454)...

For those who took part in the discussions and others who may be interested, it was revealed late yesterday that there was something unusual going on in Alfie's Quick Cryptic puzzle 1454 after all. We had suspected something of the sort  because of his past reputation but were unable to find it, however an Anon poster spotted it late in the day and a fuller explanation was added by Nila Palin an occasional contributor. I won't say more here in case anyone wants to revisit the puzzle now that they know there's something to find, but all is revealed in the QC discussion thread.